I remember posting an article in our company’s social network regarding the strength of Yolanda, aka Haiyan. I read it before the aftermath happened. The storm level 5 mentioned in the article doesn’t sound fearful to me. I told myself, “it’s just another storm“. That is probably what the people in central Visayas initially thought as well, “Don’t fear, it’s just another typhoon”. After seeing in social media the devastation it has brought in, I felt a sudden emotional storm surge.
Storms in the Philippines
The Philippines lies at the Pacific ocean–yes, it’s ironic how this body of water is called by Ferdinand Magellan as the Pacific, which means calm. On average, 20 typhoons hit the country. It is so used to typhoons that its rainy season is almost synonymous to “stormy” season. Previously, the names of the storms were Filipina (woman) names. The logic behind it (which doesn’t really seem so logical) is that like women, typhoons tend to change its course every time. In 2001 it was changed and men names were allowed–gender equality, I guess. The names follow the sequence of the alphabet: the first typhoon of the year will start with A until it reaches Z. If it exceeds Z, there are auxiliary names that can be used. Currently, there is another typhoon coming after Yolanda (Haiyan), her name is Zoraida. This means there had been 25 storms in the Philippines for this year.
Taken from PAGASA website:
The first tropical cyclone of the year starts with the name beginning in letter A as in AURING under column 1 for 2009 and so on down the list as one disturbance succeeds another. The 5th year (2013) will bring us back to column 1 of AURING. In the event that the number of tropical cyclones within the year exceeds 25, an auxiliary list is used, the first ten of which are listed under each column.
Time magazine wrote an article explaining why the Philippines is the most storm-exposed country on earth: it is an archipelago of 7,000 islands where coastlines are vulnerable to storm surges from the vast expense of warm Pacific Ocean water.
Dear Yolanda (Haiyan)
Yolanda (Haiyan) was the strongest tropical cyclone in history to make a landfall. It is equivalent to Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. In comparison, Katrina is Category 3. Its sustained winds was 195mph. Think of it this way, have you tried the fastest roller coaster in the world, Formula Rossa, Ferrari World in UAE? Well, Yolanda is almost twice that speed. The waves produced were 16 feet high, so imagine an almost 2-storey building going after you, how would you feel? The storm covered almost the entire archipelago. Look at satellite image below.
With this magnitude, it’s indeed unimaginable what kind of havoc it can bring to a province where houses are mostly designed for tropical weather.
It was Saturday evening when I noticed that the posts in my Facebook weren’t a hodgepodge of different topics. Almost everyone is singing the same song: wreckage left by typhoon Haiyan. It was as if Haiyan had her own moment of selfies–except that the photos were not amusing and entertaining. The images were gruesome and the news were heart-breaking.
I started imagining, what if I were that father holding his lifeless young daughter on his arms? Will I wipe the mud covering her face or will I keep on checking her pulse hoping that by some miracle she’ll start to breathe again? What if she was my only child and her mom died after giving birth?
Being so close to my mom, I can’t fix my eyes on the photo of this woman. Her agony is like a jab that slowly fills my heart with sorrow. What if she was a widow and a mother of three very young kids? She dedicates her life entirely for her children, working everyday in the market just to provide them food and education. She sees the future of her kids as the only way to escape from poverty. Then with just a lash of the storm, her house is gone and her kids are nowhere to be found.
What if I was this kid looking for my parents, hoping that they will hear my sobs and comfort me?
I do muse at the selfies of my friends in Facebook and Instagram, but I don’t have the same liking with Haiyan’s. I once told my friends, I don’t want to see my Facebook feeds for a while. I don’t want to be teary-eyed while working on a system workflow in the office–they might think that I’m getting too emotional with the squares and diamond shapes on my screen.
The video below shows the current situation of the hard-hit areas in the Philippines. It was unimaginable. People are looting shops, robbing houses and killing others–scenes that I normally see only in the movies.
After the news had spread all over the world, an outpour of donations and support going to the Philippines happened. Once again, the power of social media has been put in good use. Filipinos overseas are able to reach out to their families thru Facebook and Twitter. Technology was at the forefront and Google even launched a Yolanda Person Finder.
For related post read Jonha’s article: Here’s an Account of Emergency Relief from Various Countries for the Typhoon Haiyan Survivors
As of 2:00 pm today, the number of international donors monitored by the DFA has risen to thirty-six (36) and the value of international assistance has been estimated at Php 3,848,564,500 or USD 89,501,500. Again, this figure accounts only for cash donation pledges and in-kind donations to which monetary valuation had been assigned by the donors.
Let me clarify that most of the international assistance, either in monetary form or in-kind donations, does not go through the Philippine government. The DFA, as the first point of contact for the international community, is notified of pledges of international assistance. The DFA will then pass on the information to the NDRRMC and other agencies involved in relief and rehabilitation efforts.
So far, except for Indonesia, all international donors that have pledged monetary donations are coursing the money through their aid agencies, or through NGOs, charitable institutions and foundations of their choice. The Vatican, for instance, is sending its donation to local churches and these churches will be distributing the aid to the people. Some donors are distributing relief goods directly to the affected communities while others turned the items over to NDRRMC and DSWD repacking stations. Other donors are also deploying their own medical and search-and-rescue teams in hard-hit areas.
Furthermore, a pledge of financial support is subject to the rules and processes of the donating government or agency. Therefore, it takes time for the actual funds to be released to the recipients. As for reports that adequate aid is yet to reach those in need, the DFA wishes to assure the public that it is doing everything it can to properly and promptly coordinate offers of international assistance with the agencies engaged in aid delivery
It is heart-warming to see people from different ages and races who are, in their own ways, supporting the relief operations in the country.
There are many ways to make your pledge and it doesn’t have to be big–I know this sounds a cliche, but it is what it is. My friends and I have decided to skip one meal in a day, accumulate the money and donate it to ABS-CBN’s Sagip Kapamilya Organization. We chose them because they aren’t only concerned on the immediate needs of the people, but they also have plans on how to rebuild the community in the future. The remittance centers here in Singapore have also extended their helping hands by waiving the remittance charges to any donations. LBC has offered free shipment of relief goods from Singapore.
In a move to disseminate vital and hopefully, accurate information, Filipino netizens agreed on standard Twitter hashtags to coordinate updates, rescue, and relief efforts on the effects of the supertyphoon. This will also streamline coordination process online, which could help push for a quick relief and recovery efforts, Twitter said in a statement provided to media.
– From Interaksyon.com
#ReliefPH (Rescue Coordination)
#RescuePH (Urgent Rescue Needed)
#SafeNow (Resolves #RescuePH)
#FloodPH (Damage Reporting)
#TracingPH (Report Missing People)
#YolandaPH (Media storm coverage)
The onslaught of the typhoon has moved our delegate, Mr. Naderev Saño, into tears during the Climate Change conference in Warsaw, Poland. Please watch the video below.
The Filipinos are more than thankful to all the people and organizations who have expressed their support and who have helped in comforting and relieving the pains that has engulfed our country. As we say it in our language, “Maraming Salamat po!”